Only Kashmir | Chowdhary Rabiya Shafiq | 21 March 2018
The election process is an everlasting practice of our society under the ambit of democracy. We usually get trapped right in the middle of the electoral process. Hapless victims of loud talking parties are feebly performing politicians. At the moment of an election we are quite literally all that they care about. But soon, too soon once the votes are in and counted they will forget all about us. At least until the next time.
So today, let me reverse the focus. Let me concentrate on them. Not on all of them, but some at least. For the point I wish to make is that in one critical but so far unrecognized respect they are not really different. No, that is not clear enough. They are in distinguishable. Now let us be truly frank they are exactly the same. None of these give interviews and nor they have given. I am not talking about addressing rallies or answering questions at press conferences. At rally the politicians sets the agenda. At press conferences, there are far too many reporters with their individual concerns to focus attention on any issues, leave assure that closely question in a well structured way. Only a proper cut down interview can do that.

Now think of any foreign politicians, they thrive on interview and at election time they rarely decline an invitation to give one. Why? Because they know the senior politicians who want to run a country owe it to their voters that they are ready and willing to be questioned. Not just those to be cross questioned. But they also recognize something else. A politician reveals his capacity to fight, his commitment to beliefs, his conviction to carry through change by the way he performs in an interview. That is when he seeks to impress them.
But here is another situation to avoid, interviews. May be they do not want to be judged, perhaps they do not know how to stand up to close resulting arguably they do not wish the voter to really get to know them.
I think this is wrong. In fact it’s shameful. Actually, it’s deplorable. May be I will never get an interview from any one after writing this, but if that is the case, so be it. So my point however remains unchanged. There is something very strange about a democrat who cannot who will not, face questioning. So how can they fulfill our needs, and there is something lacking in democracy where this is condoned.
A democratic constitution is only part of a story. In a democracy a lot depends on how citizens use their rights. Even the most democratic constitution may not be properly run if the citizen does not use their rights and exercise their control over the government. Democracy needs a body of public opinion. This means that citizens can participate in the governing process better if they take interest in politics, real newspaper, listening radio, judge government policies and react to politician problems, particularly about problems of their own society and its policies. Otherwise it would either react instinctively or not at all and so will ne I vain. The representative is, therefore not free to work against the wishes of the electorate if he (or his party) wants to get reelected. Usually before his election, he would have given his constituents some reasons for choosing him over his rivals. This is sometimes called his manifesto or programmed. After election he is expected to follow his manifesto and keep his promises. If he does not electorate will most probably show him the door next time. I am just strong language not just because the point deserves emphasis but because I want all of you to sit up and recognize that a farce is being performed on all of us. Worse it’s a farce because we are ourselves permitting.

In democratic government, the opposition has very significant functions. In some ways the works of opposition is no less important than government. The government of course gets into office by popular vote. Till next election, if nothing unusual happens, there is no way of calling the government to account. The electorate has a major role in a democracy. But of necessity the role that can be played occasionally. In a normal working democracy, every policy or every decision of the government cannot be brought to the electorate for judgment. That would make the process of government impossible. Through elections the electorate expresses general confidence in the majority party. But keeping the government under control during its tenure is another matter. Day by day work of the government cannot be cruised by the electorate of the whole society, so opposition is a must. Sadly our politicians do the opposite, if they give interviews they do it to crow, not to prove they are up to the job.
So they agree to be interviewed when all is well and end up in trouble. But when they are truly in trouble and need to show they have the answers and they choose to stay strangely silent …!!!
The writer Chowdhary Rabiya Shafiq is a Rajouri based Activist/Journalist.